Statewide Expansion To Help Provide The Course Access That Is Crucial For Postsecondary Success

“No Latin – we cannot find a certified teacher…”
“No AP – there is not a large enough enrollment…”
“No art class – you are missing a history credit…”

Are you tired of saying no?

With today’s technology, the Niswonger Foundation has been able to work with large and small school systems throughout Tennessee to help offer all the course choices their students need for success. The Niswonger Foundation is a nonprofit foundation that has been operating in East Tennessee for 17 years. The Foundation’s goal is to help prepare students in Tennessee’s rural school systems for the increasingly rigorous education necessary to compete for 21st century jobs. In 2010, the Foundation was awarded a Federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant and the Niswonger Online program was created.

Niswonger Online is a NCAA and College Board approved online supplemental program that offers over 40 online courses ranging from math, science, foreign languages, and Advanced Placement (AP). Our project-based, highly engaging courses, are taught by licensed Tennessee teachers and are aligned to the Tennessee Academic Standards.

 

“As a rural high school, Niswonger Online courses have not only strengthened our course offerings but opened doors for our students. Courses that we cannot possibly offer to students in our brick and mortar building are now available.”

– Dr. Catherine Edwards, Unicoi County High School

In just the last four years, Niswonger Online has helped over 5,000 students in East Tennessee earn high school credits; many in courses that have never been offered at their brick and mortar school. Courses like French, Latin, and AP are highly utilized by students who in the past did not have these options. Students who want to “get ahead” and open their schedule for more advanced classes of interest in their junior and senior years are enrolled in other courses such as economics, personal finance, government, and wellness.

Niswonger Online has a 90 percent completion rate for students in grades 8-12. This is not because our courses are easy but because every student has a teacher who is there to help and encourage them throughout the course.

Each semester students take an anonymous survey giving feedback pertaining to their online course. Student satisfaction with their online course is overwhelmingly high with teacher ratings being the highest of the tracked categories. 88 percent say they would recommend the online course to a friend and 93 percent say they would take another course online if given the chance. When asked what the hardest part of the course was, the majority respond with their own lack of time management skills. As we know, time management is a key soft skill in today’s work environment and this, along with technical skills learned in the online environment, are all skills students need before going into postsecondary education or the workforce.

“The Niswonger Online classes allowed me to take all the AP/Honors courses I wanted plus band, without any worries of scheduling conflicts.”

– 11th-grade student

We are currently working with 21 school systems for a total of 44 middle and high schools. The Niswonger Foundation understands that course choice is not just an issue in Northeast Tennessee, and Niswonger Online is now expanding to offer our online courses to students throughout the state. To learn more about this opportunity, visit niswongeronline.com.

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Gina Pavlovich

Gina is the coordinator of learning resources at the Niswonger Foundation. She is a native of Kingsport, TN where she graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School. She earned her bachelor of business administration and master of arts in teaching degrees from East Tennessee State University. Before joining the Niswonger Foundation, Gina worked as a social studies teacher and coach at Greeneville High School. She began her work with the Niswonger Foundation in 2011 as an online course facilitator of various social studies courses.

The SCORE Sheet is the online conversation on public education reform in Tennessee and is hosted by SCORE. The blog mirrors SCORE’s collaborative nature and features contributors from Tennessee and across the country including students, parents, teachers, policymakers, community groups, and members of SCORE’s team. Regardless of perspective, contributors share a common goal: that every child graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

Posts on The SCORE Sheet are the opinions of the individual contributors and are not necessarily reflective of the opinions and positions of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).